By Cinnie Noble
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Before Conflict—Some Preliminary Thoughts to Consider
An interpersonal dispute is often evident not just after it percolates, but while it is brewing. At these times, our increasing awareness about things that provoke us about another person’s actions, words, manner, or attitude begin to take hold. The reasons they irritate us
are not necessarily clear at these times. However, we still experience
some form of inner conflict. That is, at some level of consciousness,
we process thoughts and emotions about the other person and the
things that are arousing a negative reaction in us. This internal conflict
has the potential for erupting in a nanosecond, or it may linger indefinitely.
Or, our feelings may surface intermittently in a variety of
ways that alert us to ongoing and unsettling discord.
The fact is, it is not unusual to feel we are in conflict even when
the other person has no inkling of what we are experiencing. While
we are not directly conveying our viewpoints or disgruntled feelings,
the inner disharmony is usually more overt than we think, and may be
observed and sensed by the other person and those around us. This
occurs not only through our body and facial language, but also by
the aura we transmit.
Inner conflict is insidious and has a way of creeping slowly into
our consciousness. Perhaps we are aware of our growing irritation
about things another person says or does, or is not saying or doing.
We may have been provoked about these things for a long time, and
find ourselves becoming more and more annoyed and on edge around
her or him. We may outwardly or inwardly cringe when we observe
the particular actions, attitudes, and words that bother us. We may
have begun to conduct ourselves in uncharacteristic ways around her
or him—being curt, sarcastic, hostile, disdainful, and abrasive. We
may have started to ignore this person, act aloof, or walk away when
we see her or him near us.
Whether these sorts of responses emanate from us about another
person or from someone else about us, they not only provide a sign
that something is amiss between us; they actually signal, too, that we
have a choice about how to proceed and manage ourselves and the
situation before things unnecessarily escalate.